GFTU General Secretary Doug Nicholls has commented on the passing of one of the great trade union leaders of our times.
“Rodney was a central part of British trade union life for over four decades. His support for mine workers, low paid workers, pensions and the public sector will never be forgotten, nor will his tremendous oratory and organisational powers and kindness. The GFTU sends its condolences to Rodney’s family and friends.”
In this new book Workers’ Play Time seven scripts written about the struggle for workers and trade union rights are published. The editor Doug Nicholls reminds us of the importance of culture to the struggle for trade union freedom. “Cultural work is central to and an essential part of our struggle; if you ignore it, you blunt your campaign, deaden your organisation, dull your education programme.”
Reading the plays is a history lesson in itself. From Neil Duffield’s play, Bolton Rising, set in 1812 during the Luddite rising to Jane McNulty’s Dare to Be Free, which links the early C20th and the struggle for cafe workers rights to the C21st and fast food workers.
Unlike most of mainstream theatre, the plays remind us of the importance of the ordinary person’s desire for justice, and how this really fuels political activity and change in society.
One of the most interesting chapters is Neil Gore’s explanation of how he researched We Will Be Free! about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. He drew on poems, songs, historical documents and previous productions. It is fascinating, and revealing about the creative process.